Can you put a price on religious liberty?
Apparently the Obama administration has.
If you value your faith; if you are one of the millions of Americans who believe that abortion pills cause the destruction of innocent, God-given human life; if you are an employer who believes that being forced to pay for others’ abortion pills is morally reprehensible, the Obama administration wants you to pay a dramatically steep price for your religious liberty.
The penalty for failure to abide by the Obamacare HHS abortion-pill mandate is an astounding $36,500 a year.
Refusal to violate your faith will cost you.
The HHS mandate requires that all employer health insurance plans cover abortion pills—that the employer must, under penalty of law, pay for the abortion pills of its employees.
According to federal law, the penalty for failure to provide this coverage is “$100 for each day in the noncompliance period with respect to each individual to whom such failure relate.”
That’s $100 a day, per employee, per year.
Needless to say, this is a penalty that adds up quickly.
For example, a business with 100 employees would face a fine of $3.65 million dollars a year for refusing to violate one’s faith.
To put this in perspective, consider this. A violation of Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires all employers of more that 50 employees to provide health insurance for those employees, is limited under federal law to $2,000 per employee and excludes the first 30 employees from the calculation.
So in the same example as above, if the employer chose not to provide any insurance for his or her 100 employees, the fine would be $140,000 a year.
So the same company would be fined $3.65 million for providing insurance but refusing to violate its faith by paying for abortion pills, but would only be fined $140,000 for providing no insurance at all. In fact, because the administration has now delayed the employer mandate until 2015 while seeking to enforce the HHS mandate now, an employer could refuse to provide any insurance to any employee and not face even a dime in penalties. Yet failure to provide abortion-pill coverage will cost an employer dearly.
It shows you exactly where the Obama administration’s priorities are. By its own regulations, it is clear that ensuring abortion pills for all is far more valuable to the administration than religious liberty or even universal health care coverage.
It is also important to take this out of the abstract. One of our clients, the Kortes, a family that runs a very small business but that is strongly committed to running their business in compliance with their faith, face over $700,000 in fines a year, something that would absolutely cripple any business.
Thankfully, this past Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a preliminary injunction preventing the HHS mandate from forcing our clients to pay these fines or violate their faith as their case continues. This has been the same result thus far in all seven of our lawsuits against the mandate.
But unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. Businesses all across America are facing these Orwellian penalties for standing for their faith.
We have just asked the Supreme Court to take one of our cases, urging it to declare that the federal government cannot force Americans, including businesses and business owners, to violate their faith. (And for anyone questioning whether the First Amendment is supposed to protect the rights of businesses, let me just remind you of the freedom of the press.)
This week, as we celebrated Veterans Day, we were all reminded that our freedoms clearly have a price. But no American should ever be threatened with fines for exercising his or her faith.
Matthew Clark is associate counsel for government affairs and media advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark on Twitter at @_MatthewClark.